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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: BIOLOGY, GENOMICS, AND INTEGRATED PEST MANAGEMENT OF INVASIVE ANTS

Location: Imported Fire Ant and Household Insects

Title: Landscape corridors can increase invasion by an exotic species and reduce diversity of native species

Authors
item Resasco, Julian -
item Haddad, Nick -
item Orrock, John -
item Shoemaker, David
item Brudvig, Lars -
item Damschen, Ellen -
item Tewksbury, Joshua -
item Levey, Douglas -

Submitted to: Ecology
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: May 14, 2014
Publication Date: N/A

Interpretive Summary: Fire ants are considered significant ecological, agricultural, and public health pest throughout their invasive range in the U.S.A. A research entomologist at the Center for Medical, Agricultural, and Veterinary Entomology, USDA-ARS, Gainesville, Florida, in collaboration with scientists from the North Carolina State University, Michigan State University, University of Florida, University of Washington, and University of Wisconsin describe here the results of a study examining effects of corridors on invasive fire ants and on communities of native ants. The results demonstrate that 1) in newly created experimental landscapes dominated by fire ants of the multiple queen social form, abundance was higher in habitat patches connected by corridors than in unconnected patches, 2) habitat connectivity had no influence on the abundance of fire ants of the single queen social form, 3) in landscapes with fire ants of the multiple queen social form, native ant diversity was lower in connected than unconnected patches. These results highlight the importance of considering species' traits when assessing the utility of corridors in conservation.

Technical Abstract: Although corridors have become commonplace in conservation to mitigate negative effects of habitat fragmentation, concerns persist that they may facilitate spread of invasive species. In a large-scale experiment, we measured effects of corridors on invasive fire ants, Solenopsis invicta, and on communities of native ants. Fire ants have two social forms: monogyne, which disperse broadly, and polygyne, which do not. In newly created experimental landscapes dominated by polygyne fire ants, abundance was higher in habitat patches connected by corridors than in unconnected patches. In contrast, habitat connectivity had no influence on the abundance of monogyne fire ants. This difference in corridor function affected native ant communities. In landscapes with polygyne fire ants, native ant diversity was lower in connected than unconnected patches. These results demonstrate that recently established corridors can facilitate invasion of non-native species, and highlight the importance of considering species' traits when assessing the utility of corridors in conservation.

Last Modified: 12/18/2014
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